THE GOULD STANDARD WWW.THEGOULDSTANDARD.COM UNDERGRADUATE COLLEGE
MAY 2017 ISSUE
EB-5 Program up for Renewal
Kumar v. Kumar on Autonomous Cars
Economics of Dating Apps
Losing SternOntheMove Page 8
DEAN MENON Aditi Shankar and Devyani Nijhawan Class of 2018
ll As a Marketing Professor, NYU parent, and, of course, Dean of the Undergraduate College (UC), Dean Geeta Menon fills a variety of roles on campus. Dean Menon took her first sabbatical in 16 years last semester to travel around the world to study commerce from a cross-cultural and global perspective. Many of us have followed along via her Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and blog, but The Gould Standard decided to catch up with our favorite ‘glocal’ faculty member and dean as she transitions back to sit at the forefront of academic excellence and innovation here at NYU Stern:
Welcome back! We tried keeping up with your travels via your blog, but we’re wondering if you could talk through your sabbatical experiences. What was your favorite destination? I traveled with a colleague, a Marketing Professor and former faculty member at NYU, Tina Kiesler. We contemplated how the world has changed rapidly in terms of markets and consumers—the world used to be a siloed place where each area would have things idiosyncratic to that area, but technology – the Web, social media -- has made the world flat and transparent. It’s interesting to wear your researcher hat even when you are traveling. Two main themes surfaced during the trip: (1) leadership and (2) global vs. local brands. We learned more about world leaders like Nelson Mandela in South
From Silicon Valley to
Secondary Markets Arjun Gheewala Class of 2019
Source: Snap Inc.
6 years ago, it started out as a disruptive platform for sharing temporary pictures. It evolved to diversify its services with facetracking and geofilters that aided in building a steady revenue stream. It eventually carved out its own market of messaging-based social media. And on March 2nd, led by Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, it went public. Snapchat’s — we should say Snap Inc. — IPO values the messaging app at $24 billion dollars, though, only about 10% of that value was offered in equity. The $2.3 billion Snap will help foster its ll
Africa, Mahatma Gandhi in India, and observed partnerships between species like zebras and wildebeests during migration while our safari in Kenya. Regardless of where we traveled, we saw how omnipresent global brands can be and how people’s perception of that omnipresence can vary regionally. We prepared a complex excel spreadsheet comprising destinations, accommodations, weather, etc. At each location, we dedicated one day to reflect on our experience and write our blog. In terms of favorite destinations, I have several but the most prominent ones include the Amazon, Machu Picchu, and the Tanzania and Kenya safari (where I succeeded at using Facebook Live after three futile attempts). It was also interesting to be in Russia during the American Presidential debates. It was a sabbatical of a lifetime. We’re curious to learn what other Dean’s initiatives you in partnership with the Office of Student Engagement (OSE) are looking to introduce/establish, alongside any study abroad expansion plans. First and foremost, let’s give SPUR a huge shout-out. We launched the program in my first year as Dean. For the longest time, this idea was niggling at me. We have the best faculty (rated #2 or #3 globally for research productivity depending on which ranking you look at) and the most talented undergraduate students in the world, so it was only natural to bring the two together. In terms of new initiatives, Stern UC, beyond the shadow
of doubt, is quite nimble. While we’ve been open and dynamic, we’ve made sure that the core curriculum continues to be very strong. The trends in the market have constantly evolved; even though we have been known to be one of the top schools for Finance, we have diversified and catered to new student interests. Accordingly, we introduced a sustainable business co-concentration, luxury marketing track, with a few other irons in the fire. With rising student interest in the tech sector, we also launched the Tech Trek - visits to tech companies in NYC. In terms of our global presence, we use the NYU global network, but we also encourage study abroad through the International Business Exchange (IBEX), where students gain different experiences compared with study away. The Office of Student Engagement (OSE) is new too and was created in 2013. We used to have an Office of Student Life that solely focused on social development. OSE is a manifestation of our understanding that Stern is a professional school with an integrated professional side. When I started my time here at Stern in 1990, NYU was a regional, commuter school and you can see where it is today: it has become a global powerhouse. NYU and Stern are not for the faint of heart. You are in the city. I am not going to say that it’s the right school for everybody but it’s the right school for a large section of very talented students. Those are the students we are trying to get through our doors.
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Hijab Symbolism: Strategy or Stance?
future technological developments and operational activities. Snap’s valuation bears semblance to large cap companies like Royal Caribbean, Tata General, and AutoZone. However, the application reflects a growing trend: the dramatic emergence of asset light business models. One of Silicon Valley’s “decacorns,” Snap Inc. shares this title with companies such as Airbnb and Uber. These companies tout multi-billion dollar valuations with minimal assets on their books. Apart from being the first-mover in the temporary image messaging space and holding 46 patents in various associated technologies it developed, Snap Inc. owns no tangible assets. And Snap is only one of many such examples in Silicon Valley. Consequently, assessing an accurate
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Source: NYU Stern
Danielle Bennett Class of 2018
On January 27th the new president’s administration created an executive order barring entry of individuals from Yemen, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Iraq, Sudan and Syria. According to the US State Department, about 90,000 visas, including student and green cards, were issued to people from those countries in 2015. The order, which originally included green card holders until the ban was revised, not only affected these “fewer than 60,000*” visa holders but their families as well. The travel ban led to the Yemeni
Source: Twitter @inespohl
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Between a Wall and a Hard Place:
The Trump administration’s contentious actions could catalyze economic recession in Mexico and economic pain in various American states. Aldo Gonzalez Class of 2020
ll Regardless of whether President Trump carries out his contentious policies, Mexico faces a tough 2017. Economic analysts project that the Mexican economy will grow at a 1.7 percent rate. A couple of key factors encumbering growth are interest rate hikes, reduced borrowing and consumer spending, and plunging oil prices in 2016. Earlier this year, Mexico’s 20 percent gas price hike set off a firestorm of shortages and looting as protesters prevented Pemex refueling trucks from leaving refineries. Syphoning and flat tires aside, this event was indicative of deeper structural issues with the economy such as stagnant wages and rising inflation, which at 4.86, was higher than the central bank's 4% target rate. Meanwhile, the peso’s value continues to diminish in relation to the value of the American dollar. Since Nieto took office, the peso has lost 50 percent of value contributing to the deterioration of Mexicans’ purchasing power and rising inflation. This is the economic reality facing Mexico. President Trump sitting in the Oval Office with a verified Twitter account only exacerbates the prospects of further volatility in the peso. Such volatility deters investors, something Mexico yearns for as an emerging market and a country suffering from lackluster economic growth. When factoring in the sensitivity of currency investors and Trump’s affinity for the uncertain, it is fair to predict that the peso will only sink further, leading to higher levels of inflation, and causing further damage to the Mexican economy. At this juncture, it is difficult to quantify the effects of a border wall and NAFTA renegotiation. Even a border-adjustment tax is
riddled with uncertainty. For Mexico, these are long-term concerns signaling instability. But Mexico’s critical short-term dilemma lies in American investment exiting the country, aggravating stagnant wages and lethargic economic growth. Mexico realizes this danger as the economy minister, Luis Videgaray, spent time lobbying Ford and GM in Detroit early in March. Videgaray’s visit marks a remarkable departure from established protocol between the United States and Mexico. Rather than acting through federal diplomatic channels, relying on a friendly American government to encourage foreign investment in Mexico, Mexico’s restructured strategy targets vital relationships with countries and American states. The very real threat of foreign investment outflows has spread a sense of fear amongst Mexicans. Companies like Ford and GM don’t want to be caught in the sights of Trump’s Twitter barrages. If that means opening a factory in the United States then these companies will play the game. Mexico cannot afford to see that game play out. More than 50 percent of Mexico’s $30 billion in foreign investment comes from the United States alone. As an omen of the impending trouble, CitiGroup projects that foreign investment in Mexico will decrease to $25 billion from $35.8 billion. Looking at these factors it is understandable why President Enrique Peña Nieto’s effigy is burned at least once a week somewhere in Mexico. His approval rating stood at a depressing 12 percent as the New Year’s ball lowered in Mexico City. As Trump entered the White House, calling for the wall to be paid by Mexico, Nieto saw an opportunity to save his legacy and distract Mexicans from
economic tribulation by focusing on a common antagonist. The Nieto administration cancelled a visit to the White House which boosted Peña Nieto’s popularity. It is uncertain whether relations will return to the status quo after this bump on the road. One reason for this uncertainty is the political risk facing Nieto and his party in the 2018 Mexican presidential elections. Andrés Manuel López Obrador is already considered the frontrunner under the banner of the Party of the Democratic Revolution, employing a “Mexico First” approach with a hardline against President Trump. Nieto could continue to stand against the Trump administration to give his party a fighting chance in 2018 against Obrador. But taking a step away from the political dynamic created by this new relationship, it is, unequivocally, in the interest of both countries to ameliorate relations. Currently, Mexico is the US’s third largest goods-trading partner with $531 billion worth of total goods traded in 2015. In addition, Mexico was the second largest goods export market for the United States in 2015 with $236 billion worth of goods. Alternatively, Mexico exported $295 billion worth of goods to the United States, creating jobs in transportation, travel, and technical industries while crafting a Mexican middle-class. As President Trump pursues his legislative agenda which includes a border wall and border security initiatives, it is important to keep an eye on Mexico’s economy as this will determine not only the Mexican election in 2018, but it will pose a pragmatic challenge for Trump’s border measures as Mexican immigration increases.
" The very real threat of foreign investment outflows has spread a sense of fear amongst Mexicans." Source: BuzzFeed
Brexit is about to Get Real:
Triggering Article 50 Virginia Favaro Class of 2019
ll Nearly ten months have passed since citizens of the United Kingdom voted on June 23rd to leave the European Union. In the months since, Britain’s economy has performed much better than originally expected,closing the year with strong consumer spending, low unemployment rates, and growth in the services industry. However, experts are worried about 2017, as the pound continues to weaken and the threat of inflation looms. The Office for Budget Responsibility has decreased its growth estimates for 2017 from 2.2% pre-vote to just 1.4%. Furthermore, as Brexit negotiations draw closer, uncertainty grows about the kind of deal Britain is going to negotiate with the EU and what its implications will be for the British economy. On March 29th, Britain triggered Article 50, which will start negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union. Once this occurs, the United Kingdom will have two years to negotiate the terms of its exit. Theresa May, Britain’s Prime Minister, has made it clear that she is striving for more of a ‘hard’ Brexit. During a speech given this January, May stated that she does not want “partial membership, associate membership or anything that leaves us [Britain] half-in half-out”. In other words, Theresa May does not want Britain to be like Norway, a country who is not in the EU but remains part of the single market. Instead, she wants a clean break from the institution. However, she is also pushing for “freest possible trade”, which would placate the worries of British companies who largely export to other European countries.
The Labour Party, which had largely campaigned for the UK to remain in the European Union, is now scrambled as Labour Members of Parliament (MPs) appear to hold contrasting opinions as to how Brexit should progress. Jeremy Corbyn, Labour Party Leader, stated that the Party would fight against a ‘hard’ Brexit as he believes it would hurt the UK’s manufacturing industry. At the same time, he said he would not fight for the UK’s continued membership in the single market. Discussions of a ‘hard’ Brexit are typically interpreted to mean a departure from the single market. However, Corbyn’s stance against both the single market and a ‘hard’ Brexit, demonstrate contradictory positions. The Labour party appears confused and in need of a strategy. However, there are many Labour party MP’s who are much more pro-EU and do not see the EU as a flawed neoliberal project. Instead, these MPs feel that the Labour party simply is not doing enough to stop May’s ‘clean’ Brexit. Across the negotiating table is the European Union, with Angela Merkel as their likely leader. According to Ian Bremmer, a Global Research Professor at NYU and President of Eurasia Group, Merkel will have to “bear two things in mind ‒ many within her party fear that tough terms for Britain will hurt German business, but if she offers major concessions, she will empower anti-EU forces.” Given the complexity of the issue, it is impossible to predict with certainty the direction that Britain will take with its Brexit. Only time will tell. Source: Investopedia
+ A Match that Could’ve Been Jennifer Kim Class of 2019
ll In February 2017, Kraft Heinz made a $143 billion takeover offer for Unilever, which at $50 a share is approximately an 18% premium. However, the proposed deal fell through almost immediately. The offer to acquire Unilever, a British-Dutch consumer goods company with brands ranging from Dove and Axe to Ben & Jerry’s ice cream came first as a surprise. However, a closer look indicates that the entire packaged foods industry is in decline. Companies are fighting to stay alive either through growth in emerging markets or through mergers and acquisitions. As Kraft Heinz also faces competition from changing consumer tastes and various upstarts, it seems natural for them to be expanding margins by aiming for the latter strategy. While this offer may have been beneficial for Kraft Heinz, Unilever has since rejected the packaged foods behemoth’s advances. Unilever’s finance chief, Graeme Pitkethly, announced that this offer “substantially undervalued” the company, although the proposed price tag was at a premium to Unilever’s stock. He did not think that the company’s long-term strategy was accounted for in the share price. Aside from the finances, Unilever’s leadership claims to have rejected this offer due to cultural differences between the two
companies. Kraft Heinz is well known for its ruthless job and cost elimination following a takeover. Unilever, on the other hand, has prided itself for including sustainability as part of their mission, and for keeping the culture of brands like Ben & Jerry’s alive. NYU Stern finance professor Yakov Amihud, however, believes that this reason alone is not enough for Unilever to have declined the deal. If Unilever’s real reason for not going through with the acquisition is indeed culture clash, he thinks management has not done their fiduciary responsibility. He reports, “If management thought that the reward to shareholders in the acquisition exceeds what Unilever could provide on its own, it should have accepted the offer. But because part of the offer was in stock, indeed Unilever's management should take into account what it thinks will be the long-term effect of the acquisition.” Political backlash could also have played a part in this deal fallout. The recent Brexit vote has placed Unilever, a company based in London, under the scrutiny of Theresa May’s conservative government. British officials are wary of the opportunity that the weakened sterling pound brings for international companies looking to snatch up cheap British companies. Members of Parliament have previously voiced their
opposition to the deal, especially as they look towards creating stronger industrial policies that safeguard jobs. Regardless of the reasons for the rejection, there’s no denying that the unexpected Kraft offer has spurred Unilever’s leadership to increase their focus on their short-term value. Unilever released a statement saying, “the events of last week have highlighted the need to capture more quickly the value we see in Unilever.” This is a drastic change from when CEO Polman first came into power in 2009, where one of his first acts was to have Unilever no longer publish quarterly profit updates, saying they too much encouraged short-term thinking. As for Kraft Heinz, this deal is the first substantial sign of interest that the company has shown in the broader range of consumer goods. It is said that they have a list of other takeover targets, such as personal care companies Clorox, Kimberly-Clark, and Colgate-Palmolive. Professor Amihud, however, believes that Kraft is overstretching their business. He comments, “if I were to advise them, I would say: merge the food business with yours and sell or spin off the consumer goods business. It is hard to see the value of keeping both together. Firms in the U.S. prefer focus in management and they often divest non-core business.”
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EB-5 Program up for Renewal
Class of 2020
ll The EB-5 Program was established by the Immigration Act of 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy by inviting foreign investment and spurring job creation. It allows foreigners to receive a green card by investing a minimum of $1M in a commercial enterprise in the United States—or $0.5M if the enterprise is in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA)—creating or preserving at least ten jobs for U.S. workers. Since its inception, the Program has survived multiple reauthorization deadlines. However, as its April 28th reauthorization deadline approaches, some wonder if the Program is, or should be, on the chopping block. On January 24th, Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced bill S.232, which calls for the termination of the Program. “[The Program] says that American citizenship is for sale, and that’s not what our country stands for,” Sen. Feinstein wrote in an op-ed last year. Legislators and the public alike have expressed such concerns over the concept of citizenship-by-investment inappropriately commodifying citizenship. On the other hand, Stern sophomore Stephen Zheng—who performs EB-5 research in the Stern Program for Undergraduate Research (SPUR) under the supervision of Professor Jeanne Calderon and Scholar in Residence Gary Friedland—believes the expression “green card for cash” inaccurately reduces EB-5 investors to over-privileged individuals who buy their way into the country. “The truth is that EB-5 investors face very real risk of not getting back their money on time or at all, having their money locked in an extremely low interest setting, and being victims of fraud, lack of transparency, and extremely long delays in their application processing,” Zheng said. “EB-5 isn't ‘green card for cash’
as it is a properly deserved reciprocation for a very real economic sacrifice that promotes the wellbeing of America.” Recent fraud lawsuits over unauthorized use of EB-5 funds and deception of investors also contribute to the negative press surrounding the Program. In February, Chicago hotel developer Anshoo Sethi was sentenced to three years in prison for swindling over 290 foreign investors out of nearly $160M. In the process of misleading them, he forged documents and falsely claimed to have established franchise agreements with the InterContinental Hotels Group and other major hotel companies. Approximately $147M was returned to the investors, who collectively lost millions of dollars and were not granted the U.S. visas they had anticipated receiving when they decided to fund what ended up as Sethi’s failed $900M hotel and convention center construction project. In addition, EB-5 developers engage in a practice dubbed “gerrymandering,” which further challenges the integrity of the industry. States can strategically join census tracts to encompass both distressed regions and affluent regions, with the resulting zone possessing an unemployment rate at least 1.5 times the national average and thereby receiving TEA designation. Consequently, projects in wealthy neighborhoods within TEAs qualify for TEA funding. The $20B Hudson Yards real estate development, which will cover 1M square feet of retail and mixed spaced use and 18M square feet of commercial and residential space, is partially financed by $600M in EB-5 investments. The project’s qualification for TEA funding is a result of gerrymandering, which allows the upscale Hudson Yards to be linked with high
Sustainability in Finance: Working towards a low-carbon economy
Source: Re:Life Inc.
Virginia Favaro Class of 2019
ll According to a London School of Economics study, “climate change could cut the value of financial assets by $2.5 trillion” if temperatures rose by 2 by 2100. "It makes financial sense to a risk-neutral investor to cut emissions, and even more so to the risk-averse," said Professor Simon Dietz, environmental economist. It is only natural then that banks are starting to prioritize and integrate environmental protection and sustainability into their core businesses. In order to do so, banks are starting to utilize instruments such as green bonds. Green bonds are similar to conventional bonds but the capital raised through this type of debt should finance projects that benefit the environment. They also have similar yields to those of conventional bonds, making them attractive to investors. Green bonds seem like the answer to our world’s need for a low-carbon economy. However, at a closer look they’re not as perfect as they seem. Anyone can issue a bond and call it ‘green’. Even though many institutions such as the World Bank have started developing guidelines, no one has yet created a universally accepted definition. There is no way to guarantee that all the capital raised through these green bonds is going towards projects that protect the environment. Stefan Reiner from Deutsche Bank, explains that “Deutsche Bank was one of the founders of the Green Bond principles”. These guidelines ‘define precisely how proceeds should be allocated’. However, these Green Bond Principles are simply encouraged and banks don’t have a legal obligation to follow them. With yields being so similar to those of conventional bonds, it raises the question of whether green bonds are any different. Banks might have introduced them simply to meet ‘green’ targets and investors might be using them simply to feel better about themselves. Despite the many issues, the market for green bonds is rapidly growing. Moody’s predicts that “Green bond issuance worldwide could cross $200 billion in 2017, doubling the 2016 record”. The financial services industry is starting to realize the potential it has to serve society and the environment. A similar instrument, social impact bonds, are instead used to finance social projects. These can range from tackling low
academic performance in city schools to high teenage incarceration. In the future, banks are hoping to also use these bonds for green opportunities. However, social impact bonds run into the same issues as their green counterparts: they don’t have a set of specific standards to meet. Just a few years ago Lloyds’ social impact bonds were revealed to be repackaged loans that were already on their books. Lloyds was praised for its corporate social responsibility, but it channeled no new investments towards social projects. Banks seem to be using social impact bonds to improve their image in self-interest rather than adding value to society. Banks are also expanding their clean energy targets by directly investing in renewable energy and low-carbon projects. Goldman Sachs plans to deploy over $150 billion in clean energy projects by 2025. To achieve that target, the firm has invested over $2.5 billions in capital across 35 clean energy companies and projects since 2012. Furthermore, Goldman Sachs has financed renewable energy projects through IPOs, convertible bonds and other financial instruments. The renewable energy industry is showing great potential for investment banks, as costs for wind energy has decreased by 80% in the past several years, making ‘green finance’ far more attractive to a wider base of investors. Bank of America is also working to stimulate $10 billion towards high-impact clean energy projects through the Catalytic Finance Initiative (CFI). Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan said that “we [Bank of America] want to take a leadership role in helping remove barriers to investing in clean energy projects [..]”. The CFI aims to reduce the risk around renewable energy projects to increase the investor base for such projects. Instruments like green and social impact bonds still need to be developed to harness their full potential. However, banks are realizing the importance of integrating environmental sustainability within their core business. Tim Fresher, Goldman’s Chairman for the Asia-Pacific region, stated “As a company, if you ignore sustainability, you’re going to be worth less”.
Source: ABC News
unemployment sites, including ones in Harlem. Critics denounce gerrymandering for enabling subsidization of luxury projects, which undermines the Program’s objective to aid particularly distressed regions by allowing foreigners to invest smaller amounts in projects in TEAs than in projects outside TEAs. Less than 10% of EB-5 investments are currently directed to true high unemployment areas. With the EB-5 system under fire, legislators are growing convinced of the need to pass reform to ensure its viability. The March 8th House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Program explored possible future directions. The committee examined a reform proposal the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) put forth on January 13th. One recommendation, which aims to curtail gerrymandering, calls for the DHS, not states, to determine TEA designation. Another recommendation is to raise the minimum investment amount to $1.8M, or $1.35M in a TEA, in order to account for inflation since 1990 and to increase foreign investments in the country. Although President Trump has yet to declare an official position on the Program, he is vocal about two of its key features, immigration and job creation, inciting speculation over how he will weigh in on the reform talks. “Reform is hindered due to the efforts of a few powerful members of industry that seek to maintain the status quo because they seek to continue to attract vast sums of EB-5 capital under the very favorable treatment accorded to them under the existing law,” said Friedland. Ultimately, he is hopeful, but not overly optimistic, that reform will be passed either by the impending April 28th reauthorization deadline or by September 30th, the end of the current session of Congress.
From Silicon Valley to Secondary Markets Continued from front page value of the company against next to zero assets is becoming a challenge for both investment banks and valuation gurus alike. Following a company’s exposure to the market, the value of the company’s equity primarily relies on protecting underlying technologies, brand value and most importantly, the stability of the network effect. The network effect is a demand-driven theory that was born in the early 1900s alongside the telephone. The phenomenon argues that a product’s value is codependent on the number of users it has. When the telephone became a mainstream reality, every new user implicitly made the telephone more attractive without necessarily intending to do so. More users equated to greater product value. The resulting bandwagon effect encourages more users to the platform, increasing the company’s value. Today, SaaS companies can leverage value from their underlying user base, creating a tangible asset. Snap Inc.’s valuation is based on the same logic. After the technology company's characteristically inflated post-IPO uptick, Snap Inc. experienced a sudden drop that devalued the company by $7 billion. Facebook's global launch of Snapchat-like features on its popular instant messaging platform Messenger brought Snap Inc.’s excitement to a sudden halt. If Facebook could conjure up the same features as Snapchat in little over 5 months, how can Snap defend its platform? Investor fear of Snapchat's impending expiry date drove shares below IPO, reminiscent of Twitter’s experience during its own IPO in 2013. Promising strong return on investment with revenue bolstered by a loyal user base who swears by the 140 character posts, Twitter's IPO took off like a bullet. The initial response was fueled by months of hype and memories of the riches many investors earned from Facebook's IPO not long before. But a focused look at its revenue revealed it wasn’t profitable, not even close. Shares plummeted and currently trade at just around 20% of the price trading at days post-IPO (in dollar values, Twitter was worth $37.95B at its peak and is now worth $11.08B). An ongoing struggle for Twitter to monetize its platform has plateaued the stock’s value at around $15. But Snap Inc. has a promising wildcard. A seemingly small, but undoubtedly significant, development in the Snap Inc. timeline was the 2016 release of Spectacles. The perky round sunglasses made by Snap were sold in vending machines (reminiscent of Minions) across America and offered Snapchat users the ability to record their daily lives from a first-person perspective. Popularized by Snapchat celebrities, they were a highly sought-after product. At one point, due to
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Kumar v. Kumar The Case for Autonomous Cars Michael Kumar Class of 2018
ll From a young age, I knew that I was supposed to want a car. I knew that on my sixteenth-and-a-half birthday I was supposed to beg my parents for one last ride to the hallowed halls of the Department of Motor Vehicle for my road test before being set free into the boundless and unexplored strip malls of suburban New Jersey. Before that point, I had merely survived, but on that day, I would live. Truth be told, however, I hate cars. I hate driving. Yes, having the ability to drive is certainly convenient, and I’m glad that during high school I could commute from school and baseball practice in my whip (a.k.a. 2008 Volkswagen Jetta—rims to come later). But the physical act of driving—that is God’s version of monotonous hell. I am by no means a “car guy”. Coming to New York City, I flourished in passive act of sitting the back of a cab and was only minorly peeved with how long it takes to refill a MetroCard (why can’t I do it on my phone?). But somehow in this city with millions of people and a dearth of drivers licenses, I became with friends with two “car guys”. The other day I was walking with one such friend when I saw a nice
limited supply and lofty demand, the smart sunglasses were being flipped on platforms like eBay, sometimes fetching up to $4,500 a pair. But what many brushed off as a clever accessory and marketing strategy are quite literally a lense into the future of the young company. Snap Inc. is a self described camera company, not a social media company. The change in branding, marked by the change of name in September 2016, indicated a shift in the company’s focus. Under its umbrella are Bitmoji (a customizable emoji platform), Snapchat, and Spectacles. But the latter two are the key players looking forward. But why is a company that at its core is a social media messaging platform pivoting towards a technology company? The reason might relate back to the network effect and the emergence of camera technologies in other fields. Companies rely on the network effect look to conventional advertising and data licensing to be profitable. These revenue drivers are heavily reliant on audience growth and advertiser demand. This monetization process lacks diversity and makes building a sustainable business model hard. To offset the potential plateau in user growth and profit uncertainty of advertising driven revenue, Snap Inc. is looking elsewhere to compete. Cloud Vision and Clarifai are entering the private image recognition space through powerful APIs. Meanwhile, large public corporations like Google, Microsoft and IBM are aggressively competing to dominate the public market by integrating their computer vision technologies in their product suite. These companies are keenly focused on imaging technology, and for good reason too. Everything from finance and medicine, to gaming and security are seeking image recognition to provide deeper insights into the world around us. For example, asset managers at BlackRock are beginning to use satellite imagery to analyze the numbers of cars at retail parking lots to get real-time insights on how their portfolios are performing. This isn’t science fiction, because by its own accord, their technology implementations have been seeing significant upside. Perhaps not in the context of finance, but this is the environment Snap Inc. wants to be a player in. Snapchat as a social media platform is transcending conventional messaging and photo-sharing platforms. Its facial-tracking technology and content sharing facilities show promise of revolutionizing the way we see cameras in our daily lives. Spectacles piggybacks this concept by building an albeit primitive, but promising hardware component to the Snapchat technology. Its offering is a software and hardware synergy that could potentially revolutionize the future of cameras and cognitive technologies with an emphasis on having a presence in our daily lives. Snap’s Spectacles are a better version of the now defunct Google Glass. At the current trajectory, Snapchat may be changing the way we see technology decacorns. While at its core, the young company is still only recognized for its large social media presence in our daily lives, the implications of its pivot indicate a more valuable underlying business strategy. Armed with a strong user base and protected technological innovation, Snap Inc.’s pictures are worth these 1,000 words.
looking car. I studied it closely, and was able to gather from the jaguar on the the logo that this car was indeed a Jaguar. I asked him what type of Jag it was, casually showing off my deductive reasoning skills, and he quickly told told me the model (it was something with letters and numbers). He could tell I liked the car, so he quipped, “You know you have to drive this kind.” (My enthusiasm for driverless cars has turned into a bit of a running joke.) I’m not a car guy. I’m an autonomous car guy. When I was a kid, I watched a Sebastian Thrun TED Talk. When I watched him tell the story of his friend that died in a car accident and how it inspired him to create a better car, I felt like the smartest guy in the room. I told everyone I knew (basically my parents and my brothers), and my dad—hoping that I would finally come around to this whole engineering thing—showed me the DARPA Grand Challenge, a collegiate autonomous car competition. We followed the live updates and when Carnegie Mellon won, www.cmu.edu become my homepage. Mass adoption of autonomous cars will not be like changing my homepage—cars will not go from manually-operated to autonomous overnight. Rather the automation process will be frustratingly slowmoving, like taking the Garden State Parkway on a beach weekend. And while Google Maps may not be able to determine the ETA, it can tell us that the path to a world without human driving will pass through ADAS first. ADAS, Advanced Driver Assistance System, is an umbrella term for automotive systems that automate certain aspects of the driving experience. They allow cars to parallel park themselves and power such things as automotive cruise control, a feature that allows you lock in a distance to the cars in front of you during highway driving (as opposed to standard cruise control which allows you to lock in a speed). These systems are powered by sensors that allow the cars to sense the road around, read signs, stop before a collision, and even change lanes. Drivers can usually override these systems, but as is the case with Tesla’s Autopilot and the Mercedes Benz’ Drive Pilot, the driver can choose to sit back and let the car do the work. In the automotive industry, these systems have been dubbed “semiautonomous.”
Investment has flowed into ADAS companies, largely from automotive corporations feeling threatened by the emerging technology. GM acquired a pre-revenue startup, Cruise Automation, that had about 40 employees for excess of a billion dollars for the technology and talent in 2016. GM has also invested in Lyft with hopes of developing autonomous taxis that can be summoned with a mobile device (and I still can’t refill my MetroCard on my phone!). However, the winners in autonomous cars are yet to be determined and may not come from the traditional or existing automotive industry. Qualcomm, understanding the hardware implications of ADAS systems, acquired NXP Semiconductor, the largest supplier of chips for cars. Samsung, perhaps realizing that people will now need something new to do while they’re not driving, recently acquired Harman International, a car entertainment and services company. I suspect ridesharing giants Uber and Lyft may have changed their homepages as well, each having set up autonomous car research centers in Pittsburgh and begun testing driverless cars near the CMU campus. When automated and autonomous cars become the accepted, I predict car ownership will become less ubiquitous. As Morgan Stanley Automotive Analyst Adam Jonas consistently points out, cars are typically used for less than 4% of the time. When car ownership becomes less essential to daily life and ridesharing platforms become cheaper and democratized, we can begin to embrace efficiency.I’m an autonomous “car guy” not because not only am I excited about not driving —I’m excited to eliminate parking lots and streamline traffic patterns. Moreover, to the average family, the advent of autonomous cars means that parents can be assured that their children are safer traveling to school. They will save thousands of dollars on gas, insurance, and car payments and they will be freed up from driving, allowing them to focus their attention on the things that really matter. When I tell people about my vision of a world with autonomous cars (that we summon using our smartphone-like augmented reality glasses and pay for with bitcoin), I get a common question in response: What are people going to do when we keep taking away these types of jobs? Driverless cars certainly a risky proposition, especially in the short run, but in my opinion it’s low hanging fruit for a world with technological progress and without the DMV.
Autonomous Cars: A Reality Check Sanchit Kumar Class of 2018
ll Humans are prone to making mistakes and thus we create technologies to solve our imperfections. Yet, technology has its own imperfections. Last May, a man was killed in a fatal crash involving a self-driving Tesla whose sensors failed to recognize a white truck in bright sunlight, questioning the longstanding belief that computers can operate a vehicle more safely than humans. Tesla CEO Elon Musk defends the technology in its current form, declaring that “the probability of having an accident is 50% lower if you have Autopilot on.” On the other hand, Ford argues that technology does not guarantee safety when you combine humans and robots, adding fuel to the debate over the future of driverless technology. In light of the lack of a regulatory framework for autonomous cars, it is dangerous to assume that technology will make us safer. The technology behind self-driving cars can be hacked and the cars can easily be weaponized. While carmakers around the world have outlandish images of what they envision vehicles to be in 20 years, the path to complete autonomy has a long way ahead. First, the evidence simply does not suggest complete autonomy is foreseeable in the near future. In 2016, carmakers have carried out tests for their driverless technology in California, a state that experiences a mild climate and is hardly representative of global driving conditions. Google’s Waymo has done the best so far as it required one human intervention almost every 5000 miles. Its 60 testing cars drove about 11,000 miles - 3000 miles less than the annual
US average - and required two interventions each. This is nowhere near perfect. Tesla’s self-driving cars performed a lot worse as its cars required 45 interventions each after driving only 140 miles - around 1 intervention every three miles. Each intervention is an accident which was potentially avoided. Given that the public will not tolerate any faults in technology, these facts are not encouraging. Even if these technical problems are overcome, unforeseen externalities still pose as obstacles. One of the major challenges for driverless cars will be contemplating a world in which humans and driverless cars interact safely. Humans and algorithms have very different motivations to act and this loophole can be exploited when ethics and law diverge and do not provide the same answer. At times, our moral principles compel us to act illegally. For example, drivers might want to drive faster than the speed limit in times of an emergency. Should autonomous cars ever break the law? Are we sure autonomous cars will be properly motivated? It is critical and inevitable for programmers to set principles and have a discussion about ethics, such as which choices are better than others. Is it better to save an adult or a child? What about saving ten adults or a child? Ethics in terms of numbers alone is incomplete as many other factors will exist that affect one’s choice. Programmers of driverless cars will have to account for an infinite number of scenarios. Human drivers might be forgiven for a bad and instinctive decision; however, programmers will not since they have the time to get it right.
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I am not Malala/Trayvon:
On Solidarity Movements & the Problem with Calls to Action Sal Bhakuni Class of 2018
ll As our society becomes more polarized and divisive, now more than ever, it is important to show solidarity with our peers and colleagues who are becoming increasingly marginalized. While demonstrating out distaste with current political processes and decisions is certainly a great way to get politically involved, there are numerous problems with the solidarity movements of today. At a surface level, while solidarity movements like ‘I too am Trayvon’, in the wake of the young Black student who was murdered in broad daylight by a member of his community, seem good, the message of this movement and similar ones, continue to be co-opted by other communities who dilute the message. The fact of the matter is that we are not all Trayvon Martin, just as much as we are not all Malala Yousafzai. The concept of solidarity is rooted in our mutual agreement to be unified under a single cause because of our understanding of it regardless of whether we are included in the in-group or not. Unfortunately, modern solidarity movements, while well meaning, when co-opted by members of the out-group claiming
they are part of the in-group, actually do more harm than good in the long-run. I am not Malala or Trayvon, I am neither a young Muslim female student growing up in a war-torn Pakistan, nor am I a Black teen growing in high-crime neighborhood in Florida, and therefore, I do not navigate the world the same way as they do. For me to say ‘I too am Trayvon/Malala’ is to equate my experiences to theirs, which is simply not the case. They way in which I interact with the world and make my decisions both subconsciously and consciously, is not informed in the same way as them. We are different people with different experiences, different lives, and different realities and that is okay. The whole premise of solidarity movements and allyship is that we do not need to be a member of an oppressed in order to recognize their marginalization, rather we can stand in solidarity, or be an ally, simply by acknowledging the injustices they face. We do not need to be Trayvon Martin or Malala Yousafzai, or a part of their communities, in order to understand that what was done to them was an abomination. We do not need to be them in order to understand that police brutality of Black people is real, or that western intervention in the Middle East lead to situations like Malala’s. Moreover, as identity politics teaches
us, while we may share similar experiences as members of various communities, our navigation of those identities contextually varies depending on our circumstances. When we do co-opt solidarity movements in such a way, we trivialize the experiences of those who actually live in these circumstances and perpetuate misunderstandings in the way in which these groups suffer. Though well-intentioned, we may actually end up doing more harm than good by equating our experiences to one another’s. The fact of the matter is that different groups are hurt at different levels by violent policies, xenophobic institutions, and prejudiced dogmas. We can show our support for other communities without co-opting their movements by leading them with slogans ‘I too am…” when we are not. The liberation of marginalized peoples won’t come from a equitable society, rather a just one in which we are protective of our commonalities, yet cognizant of our differences.
Source: MPR News
The Case for Corporate Social Responsibility
Pooja Narayanan Class of 2019
ll Milton Friedman once argued that businesses were not required to be socially responsible. His reasons: first, corporations are not experts on social issues, and second, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) creates an unintentional tax on consumers and shareholders. In Organizational Communications in Prague this year, we have been discussing whether corporations need to be socially responsible—and if so, to what extent? While we need institutions that improve the welfare of society, should corporations be held to the same standard? Should they act purely in their own self interest? Or, is there a greater case for serving
A 2010 survey... of over 1,000 online customers showed that 70% would be "willing to pay more for a $100 from a company they regard as responsible.
society? We can define Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as: “a set of actions a company takes to address customers’ social concerns, improve brand reputation, and create positive reciprocal relationships with consumers.” Here, there exists a clear incentive to be socially responsible. For one, CSR generates positive media attention. In 2017, we have observed an increase in global awareness of conflicts, as well as an increased focus upon the complexities of a corporation’s global value chain. Consumers are more socially aware; therefore companies are forced to tread more carefully.
How A Storyteller Understands Investing
Source: Google Images
A company can not only generate positive brand perception, but also expand the reach of its brand to consumers who may purchase it simply because it is socially responsible. According to a 2012 paper at Claremont McKenna College, CSR increases revenues in the long term due to a larger customer base and the potential to increase prices. A 2010 survey by Penn Schoen Berland, a research-based consultancy, of over 1,000 online customers showed that 70% would be “willing to pay more for a $100 from a company they regard as responsible.” Though there are undoubtedly financial benefits of CSR, companies are obligated as legal “individuals” of society to actively improve the communities in which they operate. Not only is it their responsibility as “citizens” or “residents” of an area, but it also begins a positive cycle for sustainable operations. Take Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola is in the vanguard of socially responsible corporations. In its Sustainability Report, Coke outlines three areas it is focusing on: Water, Women, and Well-Being. For its focus on Women, Coca-Cola has a ‘5by20’ Initiative in place that aims to economically empower five million women by the year 2020. Currently, it has improved the lives of approximately 1.2 million women, offering access to capital and training to female entrepreneurs in developing societies around the world. Though this initiative may seem odd for a soft drink company, it builds trust in the communities in which Coca-Cola operates. Moreover, it increases the purchasing power of women in relatively impoverished areas. In doing so, Coca-Cola gives women the opportunity to reinvest in the company, by buying products to consume or repurpose and resell (Coca-Cola sells products made from its packaging by these women). There are many more examples of socially conscious companies, and several benefits of CSR that can’t all be covered in the short span of this article. However, companies have a responsibility to serve social interests, as they are powerful “individuals” operating in a global society. If they want to operate in the long-term, social responsibility is in their best interest. We must hold corporations to high social standards—if not legally, then as consumers, so that we can efficiently and effectively improve our communities.
Class of 2017
ll This lyrical piece was inspired by the aphorisms and lessons I gathered while auditing the lectures of (the one and only) Professor Aswath Damodaran. The following is an excerpt -- please visit thegouldstandard.com for the full version.
On Valuation by Karan Magu Going where it’s darkest you must bring the light, Oh, the kinds of things you are likely to find. You stand at the very brink of the unknown, A lemming with a life vest, struggling to stay afloat. In this sea of volatility, know that sometimes you will sink, At times it won’t work out, it’s more difficult than you think. Valuation is based on growth, risk and cash flow It’s neither Art nor Science but a Craft you can learn to know. In your search for the Holy Grail the world will oft remark that You naïvely seek in the wrong direction. They will call you delusional, they will call you misguided, they will say that your path needs correction. But you must keep on swimming.
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Administration's Attitude Toward Energy Aditya Garg Class of 2018
ll On Tuesday, March 28th, President Trump issued an executive order to renege on many of the promises and efforts of the previous administration in combating global climate change. Specifically, the order reversed the moratorium on coal mining in the US, directed the EPA to review the Clean Power Plan, and has urged all agencies to review and identify any regulations and/or obstacles to achieving American energy independence. While the executive order does not have the US formally withdraw from the Paris Accords brokered by President Obama, it is a clear signal to nations around the world that the US is not positioned to and will not attempt to honor its commitments to reduce emissions. The Paris deal was designed to try and keep the planet from warming more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit – the temperature that a majority of scientists believe is the threshold after which the world will be irreparably damaged. As part of that goal, the US had pledged to reduce emissions by 26% from by 2025. Under this executive order, this will not happen. White House officials have insisted that the president still cares about protecting the environment. “He does not believe…that there is a binary choice between job creation, economic growth, and caring about the environment,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said when prompted. However, the administration has yet to unveil any replacement to the Clean Power Plan and has given little guidance on how it will continue to protect the environment. Rather, all policy statements have taken the form of rhetoric around job creation. For instance, Trump claimed, “My action today is latest in steps to grow American jobs. He went on to add that he is “ending the theft
of prosperity.” The Clean Power Plan was designed to try and replace coal powered power plants with alternative energy sources. Numerous studies and the EPA had estimated that it would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 1 billion tons by 2030 and would lead to over $55 billion in public health benefits. While White House officials claim this will bring relief to coal miners, this posit is simply not true. America is the middle of an energy revolution. With the development of new technologies and methods to extract oil and natural gas, the United States has now become a net exporter of natural gas and has long been a net exporter of coal. The U.S. is no longer dependent on foreign oil; yet the White House continues to perpetuate this notion. Market forces drive out coal miners rather than regulatory pressures. Lynn Good, Chief Executive of Duke Energy commented in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week: “Because of the competitive price of natural gas and the declining price of renewables, continuing to drive carbon out makes sense for us.” So what then is the purpose of this executive order? Not only is it detrimental to our environment and may potentially set us on the path towards irreparable damage, but it props up an industry that is in a period of secular decline. Rather than continuing to encourage coal powered plants, the government should be looking for ways to help workers/ miners working in these industries to transition to other related fields. The price we pay for fossil fuels simply does not include their social costs. While the US has chosen its course, for the sake of the planet and future generations, I hope that other countries around the world continue to uphold their obligations and abide by the accords.
The U.S. is no longer dependent on foreign oil; yet the White House continues to perpetuate this notion.
Why Our Schools Need Financial Literacy Alexis Datta Class of 2020
ll In an article outlining the relevance of financial literacy in today’s political and economic spheres, Jeff Atwater, the Chief Financial Officer of Florida’s Department of Financial Services wrote that “leaders across our nation should endeavour to prepare our future generations with the skills they need to be successful not only professionally, but in their personal lives as well.” At the time of his writing, Atwater noted that only 13 states required high schoolers to take a personal finance course as a part of their curriculums. While this represents a drastic improvement from only one state in 1988, today, only 17 out of 50 states have a financial literacy course requirement in their curriculums. The lack of emphasis placed upon personal finance in primary education is reflected in the aptitude of working persons and retirees. Annamaria Lusardi and Olivia Mitchell, two professors recognised in their contributions towards financial well-being with the Fidelity Pyramid Prize, conducted studies designed to evaluate financial ability. In her summary, Lusardi noted that “even though most individuals deal frequently with credit cards and other forms of borrowing, only a minority of individuals in the United States possess basic financial knowledge relating to debt.”
The implications are vast; Lusardi isolates a lack of retirement planning and detrimental financial decision-making as two key results of this deficit. Evaluators looking to quantify these findings tested credit scores in three states before and after a financial education mandate, finding improvement in each state by at least eight points (shown bottom left). In its International Student Assessment, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found that there are quite a few countries that fall below the United States in terms of financial literacy. Nevertheless, the U.S. ranked below the OECD average. At the top of the list sits China (Shanghai specifically), followed by seven other countries and the OECD average (shown bottom right). The overall consensus is clear: the United States needs to improve its financial literacy requirements and offerings for students in primary and secondary schools. These changes will most likely come from grassroots organisations such as Junior Achievement, which looks to change curriculums around the nation to include proper financial literacy training. Without this, the United States might anticipate future financial problems underpinned by a lack of basic financial knowledge.
Hijab Symbolism: Strategy or Stance? Continued from front page bodega protest. As the legality of the ban was decided first in state court and then in front of The US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, hundreds of business owners across the state of New York and around the country turned off their lights and shut their doors. They did so in solidarity with those held in transit and not allowed into the country. Businesses used signs such as, “Closed. My family is detained at JFK” and “We Closed” to update their regular customers Their action made a statement, but as a business student I am almost trained to question their business frame of reference. Though questions of profitability and sales revenue seem inappropriate, I wanted to confirm whether their move calculated? Upon reading dozens of articles and asking the opinion of multiple sources that were affected by this travel ban, I believe the answer is no. Though profit is one of the top driving forces of any business, it was not the most important factor here. Amos Barshad from The Fader and Adam Chandler from the The Atlantic went around the city on the days leading up to the protest and asked bodega owners why they decided to protest. The owners were blunt in their response. One said because, “… we are fighting for our life” and another said because, “…I believe in American values”. Although one bodega owner did mention that closing his shop was a tough decision, he also vocalized the amount of support he received from the community when he decided to close in protest. He talks about how he had people coming in and insisting that he keep the change for their purchases because they knew he will be losing money later that afternoon. Yemeni business owners viewed this protest as a necessity, rather than a choice. They wanted to let the nation know how vital their community was to the state of New York and beyond because they serve us everyday in their stores. Their closing, sometimes only announced by an image of a woman wearing an American flag hijab posted on their door, affected every New Yorker as well as them. The image came from the Women’s March on Washington. Pictures of different women who make up this country were turned into cartoons and used as marketing material for the march. Images of Black, East Asian, South Asian, Native American, Caucasian women as well as the now infamous woman in a hijab were created and marketed all around the city. The cartooned images of these women were displayed on billboards, street signs, telephone poles and sidewalk displays leading up to the January 21st. After the Women’s March, one of the six images stayed behind. It served another purpose.The woman in the American flag hijab was blown up for posters at follow-up protests, put on the front page of the New York Times, and placed on the windows of bodega’s all throughout the state. The image is a symbol of solidarity and patriotism. When Washington’s attorney general, general Bob Ferguson was joined by Minnesota’s attorney general Lori Swanson in a lawsuit against the Trump administration, posters of the woman in the American flag hijab were waved. On February 9th, when the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on February 9th to unanimously reject the president’s travel ban, signs of the same image were raised high in the air. Though the president’s first travel ban was deemed unconstitutional, the president’s administration has decided to draft a new travel ban, affecting now six of the seven countries. The fight for equality is ongoing, but like the woman in the hijab, these bodegas will continue to be a symbol of protest in hopes for a brighter future. Source: Fortune Magazine
The overall consensus is clear: the United States needs to improve its financial literacy requirements and offerings for students in primary and secondary schools.
Assertive Mating or
Assortative Mating? Source: Company websites
Aditi Shankar Class of 2018
ll 20-somethings in the city of dreams often face the daunting prospect that comprises the New York City dating scene. In a city characterized by fast-paced walking in conjunction with excessive smartphone usage, finding a significant other (or really, anyone outside of the friend-zone to grab a drink with) is increasingly difficult. Incessant Instagram feed scrolling and CNN-checking handicap the millennial generation from engaging in conversation with the new person sitting next to them at the local bar or coffee shop. Disrupting Dating Enter dating apps. The founders of Tinder, Bumble, and the like identified this market space and offered the ideal solution: a way for citydwellers to stay on their phones and still meet new people. Moreover, the ‘swiping’ mechanism introduced on these applications promotes both a sense of efficiency and detachment. For a generation that indulges in ‘mass’ consumption of all forms of technology, the aggregated collection
Title of article
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of single, available people within a certain distance allows users to privately judge others in a relatively public space. Empire State of Independence The phone screen creates a barrier for the heart and the ego. Rejection doesn’t necessarily exist on these platforms – if a user ‘swipes right’ and doesn’t receive a ‘match,’ they can ostensibly justify this result by claiming that the other user hadn’t seen their profile yet. Further, the ‘mass’ nature of dating apps softens the blow of any form of rejection. “There’s other fish in the sea,” the old adage states – these other fish quite clearly exist when the sea is a mobile dating platform and one’s finger the fishing line. New technologies have revolutionized the ‘market’ for dating, and play to the increasingly independent psychologies of city-dwellers and Stern students alike. Millennials can exert full control over dating apps – they can be as selective or as undiscriminating as they please. Furthermore, technology inherently involves a sense of anonymity: users can portray themselves as the best, or completely different, versions of themselves. Dating apps clearly take advantage of the psychologies of generation X. One stern student takes this idea further and claims that “Tinder is something that businesses have capitalized on because of [our generation’s] desperate need for self-validation. Too Many Fish? From an economics perspective, Tinder capitalizes on Nobel Laureate Alvin Roth’s work on ‘matching markets,’ where “supply and demand are not balanced price…[but] people transact based on information” (The Economist). The most efficient markets are “thick” (with a lot of participants). This observation is quite logical – the more people there are seeking digital dates, the greater the chance of finding a good match. However, these advantages of thick markets are lost if they become too congested. Tinder sees over 26m matches per day; users could be overwhelmed and unable to locate a good match among the many fish in the sea. Industry leaders have recognized this issue. Tinder offers a filter function and allows users to ‘super-like’ to express interest at an increased level. But newer apps take this specialization mechanism further. Bumble, often coined the ‘feminist Tinder,’ forces women to message their matches first. JSwipe and Dil Mil are catered to users with specific religious or ethnic interests (Jewish and South Asian, respectively). These apps allow users to supply their profile with more
information (religion, in particular) – perhaps the more specialized apps target users with more of a long-term commitment in mind. User specialization, however, could exacerbate the larger issue that assortative mating presents upon income inequality. The concept of assortative mating is quite simple, even obvious: “People with similar education tend to work in similar places and often find each other attractive. On top of this, the economic incentive to marry your peers has increased“ (The Economist). Dating apps allow users to screen for socioeconomic status even before determining whether another person is appropriate to talk to. University of Pennsylvania Professor Jeremy Greenwood argues that a correlation exists between assortative mating and household income inequality: Income equality would be smaller if not for the increase in assortative mating. Female labor force participation is also increasingly relevant: women now go to college and get high-paying jobs – the highly educated end up with the highly educated. Stern junior Shruti Kumar summarizes the above issue: “Dating apps capitalize on the human condition on multiple levels -- our generation and especially this modern feminism/third wave feminism is all about having ‘high standards’ and ‘dating up’. When apps like Tinder and Dil Mil allow you to filter based on education level or height, this problem of assortative mating is exacerbated. These features could also incentivize users to style their profile to appear more wealthy and/or educated, to maximize on ‘matches’ and eventual dates.” “Well to-do people do better on these apps anyway, because other people will be attracted to them rather than to others of their own income bracket,” adds Sean Gallagher ‘18. Cruel Intentions? While some view Tinder as “an entertaining way to kill time when you’re on the toilet,” (Abhishek Shah ‘18) many college students do report finding their respective significant others on dating apps. One junior, who found her significant other via dating apps, comments: “Tinder eliminates that nervousness of ‘does he find me attractive?’ Uncertainty is out the door, which really contributes a lot to that first in-person meeting.” Freshmen seem to take the long-term possibilities of meeting someone via a dating app less seriously, referring to Tinder dates as “last resorts.” Regardless of a user’s intention on dating apps, or the intentions behind the development of Tinder in the first place, psychological & generational trends indicate that dating apps are here to stay.
Zelle: Venmo’s New Competitor?
$10 Under 10
Pure Green (60 E 8th St) This joint serves up delicious
Class of 2018
Delicious and Nutritious Eats around the Square smoothies, acai bowls and other healthy foods.
Class of 2018
Source: Company websites
ll Revolutionizing the peer-to-peer (P2P) payments space, Venmo has turned into an action verb among millennials – “Venmo me!” is a common postlude to group dinners and brunches. In February 2016, the PayPal-owned app hit a milestone with $18 billion in transaction volume. Despite competing with the likes of Google Wallet and Square Cash, Venmo has firmly held its ground, having increased its user base across the United States by 150% this past year, particularly on college campuses. Popularity of the digital payment service among youngsters can largely be attributed to its convenience, simplicity, loyal user base, and social network integration. Traditional banks do also offer P2P options, such as BofA Mobile Pay, Chase QuickPay, and Popmoney—in fact, annual volumes of Wells Fargo, Chase, and BofA’s P2P payment platforms combined exceed $50B compared with Venmo’s $18B. While these services provided by individual banks have a strong existing user base (with slow to stagnant growth), millennials predominantly have not warmed up to these services. For one, they lack the interactivity that Venmo offers. In 2011, fearing disruption from startups, the country’s largest banks – JP Morgan, Bank of America and Wells Fargo – introduced clearXchange, a network of digital payments facilitating easy transfer of payments for individuals and businesses with U.S. bank accounts using a mobile number or email address. Today, the network boasts 25 million registered users yet has seen little success garnering youngsters’ attention. Consequently, clearXchange decided to rebrand itself last year. In October 2016, nineteen banks joined forces to tweak clearXchange and devise a better, more intuitive platform called Zelle (short for ‘gazelle,’ symbolizing agility and pace) – a Venmo-replica without the social media component. But does this mean war? With fintech startups on the rise, banks feel the pressure to innovate and keep up with the times. Venmo, Airbnb, and Uber have infiltrated millennials’ lives to such an extent that youngsters today lack the patience to spend too much time on anything; why spend time withdrawing money from the bank when you can pay using your
phone? Why write a check for rent when you can just Venmo it to your landlord? Smartphone penetration in the United States was reported close to 80% of the mobile phone market in 2015, and banks view this spurt in smartphone usage as an opportunity. Moreover, they recognize the need to create ease in consumers’ daily lives. Zelle is an outcome of this recognition, more so than a head-to-head competition with Venmo. Yet Venmo faces a threat from the soon-to-be-launched P2P platform. Venmo currently faces two key challenges. First, Venmo is not as secure as one might think. In 2015, Chris Grey, a developer in NYC, noticed a $2850 transaction on his debit card from Venmo. He tried to login to his Venmo account, but his password and email had been changed. Venmo never notified him, which per se represents a weak security layer. Augmenting Grey’s difficulty, Venmo did not respond to his emails and calls until 24 hours later. He disputed the charge with Chase, finally securing a refund. Second, Venmo does not offer the ability to cash out immediately. Users have to wait one to three business days for the money to get transferred to their accounts. Say, you use Venmo to sell your $100 textbook. You hand over the textbook and Venmo notifies you that John or Jane Doe has paid you. If the buyer is a scammer, he or she has the ability to cancel the transfer. Zelle would overcome these shortcomings. Plus, it has the backing of the biggest banks in the country—i.e., more capital for merging security and innovation. Through clearXchange, Zelle has the potential to capture a bigger market share of both individuals and businesses. But is it going head-to-head with Venmo? Venmo’s $2999.99 transaction limit per week and ‘Request’ feature send a clear message: Venmo was not designed in the first place for huge transactions with vendors. Instead, it was created to ease payment between friends and family—people you know, people you can trust. Zelle has the potential to be the P2P player used to make large payments but no matter how superior Zelle is, in the near future, millennials are still more likely to “Venmo” $5 for pizza and drinks on a Saturday night.
CAVA (143 4th Ave) This fast casual spot serves Chipotlestyle Greek cuisine. The portions are generous, so come hungry!
Taboonette (30 E 13th St) This hidden gem cooks up
comforting Mediterranean eats. Fluffy homemade pitas are packed with all your favorites.
Noho Juice Bar (208 Mercer St) This family-run
business offers plenty of healthy sandwiches, bagels, and other varieties. In a couple of visits, the friendly owners will know you by name.
Little Atlas Cafe (6 W 4th St) This hole-in-the-wall spot serves yummy, healthy food including vegan options. With no seating, it’s the perfect place to grab a quick bite.
Eva's Kitchen (11 W 8th St) This casual spot, which
stands for “Energy, Vitality, Athleticism” serves basic, no frills healthy food like burritos and brown rice plates.
Soho Tiffin Junction (42 E 8th St) Also known as the “Indian Chipotle”, this restaurant serves customizable Indian fare with a modern twist.
Saigon Shack (114 Macdougal St) You can find this spot bustling at all hours. It tends to have a line out the door, so if you’re in a rush, order to go (and remember, cash only!)
Semsom Eatery (2 Astor Pl) Conveniently located on Astor Place, stop by for some vibrant Mediterranean flavors.
Manousheh (193 Bleecker Street) If you
don’t have time to stand in those By Chloe lines, head across the street to get a taste of authentic Beirut street food.
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NATIONAL FEATURES news.paper
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www.newspaper.com/Link to website
Exploring a Path Less Taken:
Interview with Dean Menon Continued from front page
Notes from Viral V Acharya Maeve Daniels Class of 2020
ll Today’s markets are increasingly characterized by disruption, prompting an increased focus upon flexibility and experimentation from the perspective of job-seekers and policy wonks alike. The Gould Standard had the opportunity to sit down (read: conduct a transcontinental Skype session) with Professor Viral V Acharya, a man whose career has demonstrated nothing short of dynamism. With research interests in banking, asset pricing, and financial systems and crises, Professor Acharya has penned books on the Crisis of 2008 and financial sector reforms and taught classes on credit, sovereign and financial market risks. He now adds a new title to his C.V.: Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India. “What motivated your interest in economics and finance and led you to pursue a career in this field rather than another?” “I don't have a very flamboyant answer to that, since I would say it was part accident, part wanting to do something else. I was finishing my Bachelor of Technology in Computer Science—I had been trying to have a go at computational aspects of computer science: combinatorics, algorithms, etc., which is all very abstract mathematics. It was then that I stumbled upon an undergraduate elective course in International Finance by one of the faculty at IIT Bombay — her name is Pushpa Trivedi. Thinking about how money flows between different economies, how exchange rates are determined, how the global financial system all hangs together, what role does trade play in finance and what role does finance play in trade, etc., seemed quite interesting. I also happened around that time to meet a family friend, Dr. Apoorva Koticha, who had just finished his Ph.D. in Finance at NYU Stern School of Business under the guidance of Professor Marti Subrahmanyam. I exchanged emails with him, and he said that finance can be very analytical, but also exciting when applied. So that, combined with the course I took, made me think that if I had to change track to something else, let me have a go at finance or economics.” Did you always know that research was the natural path you wanted to pursue, versus practicing? “Actually, when I started out my Ph.D. work at Stern, I was quite unsure. I worked three of my Ph.D. summers at J.P. Morgan in three different groups: in fixed income strategy, equity derivatives research, and then credit risk modeling. While there in 1997 and 1998 summers, I saw
Source: Google Images
the full onslaught of the South East Asian crisis, the Russian default and the near collapse of the Long Term Capital Management. These episodes underscored to me the importance of banks, financial stability, and understanding how banks and markets interact to determine availability of credit and liquidity to the economy. While academic models are crucial for having the right conceptual framework to look at the world, it is essential to know how markets, institutions and regulation work in practice, often in an intricate and intertwined manner, so that one has the right balance between theory and applied research. I then embarked on modeling systemic risk and why it may reach inefficient levels. Since then, over the past 17 years, I feel I have gained a deeper and richer understanding of all that in a large body of research, partly shaped by the global financial crisis in 2007-08 and partly by the European sovereign debt crisis in 2011-12. I am still learning, though, how measures taken since then are unfolding.” Is it this passion that led you to work on the Stern Initiative on the Study of Indian Capital Markets, as well as the India Initiative of the Center of Global Economy and Business? “For sure. But it is also my passion for India, having grown here and feeling so much an Indian at heart. Also I was not seeing much high-quality academic research on the Indian economy, even though now it’s a large economy. By-and-large, emerging markets don’t get as much attention, in my opinion, in finance and economics research, as their share of global growth and trade deserves. I thought that some institutional set-ups might help promote such research. At the NYU Stern Solomon Center, we set up the Initiative with the National Stock Exchange of India to study the Indian Capital Markets; then two years back we set up an initiative between the Salomon Center and Moody’s ICRA to study Indian fixed-income markets; last year, we started an India Luncheon seminar series and an annual India conference under aegis of the NYU Stern Center for Global Economy and Business. My hope is that over time, we create a network of researchers across different universities who, through research, understand and therefore help the world understand, India and other emerging markets in ways that perhaps we have not understood it before.”
How has being a mother of a NYU student added to your perspective on the NYU experience? Oh, it’s made me even more appreciative of this place! You know, I lived in the building behind Tisch Hall when my son was born, so he could actually see into my office from our apartment. He’d sometimes sit on the window sill and wave to me while I was in the office. NYU has been in our life right from the get go, since he was born. But I didn’t completely appreciate how great NYU was until I saw the other side that NYU parents see. For example, I’ve never seen such efficiency in terms of moving into a dorm. On the parent side, you see these things that are really awesome. Also, I would not have been Dean without my son. One night I went to dinner with him while he was an undergraduate student here at NYU Tisch. And he asked me, “What happened today?” And I said, “I got nominated to the Dean role.” He said, “Oh, what did you say?” I said, “I said no.” He asked, “Why?” I said, “Because I don’t want to be a dean, I’m a professor!” And he said “Mom, think about this, think about how you hang out with me and my friends -- you can do stuff to influence our lives, don’t say no. Tell them you’ll think about it.” And that’s how this journey started. What advice do you have for seniors as they enter the workforce and the ‘real world?’ What advice do you have for freshmen? For seniors, I would remind them that when you enjoy what you do, work is not work. The line between work and life gets blurred. Work hard by all means, but enjoy the work that you’re doing. All of us will have grunt work to do; believe me, I have a ton. But that grunt work becomes more manageable when you see an overall purpose behind it and you enjoy the bigger outcomes. So keep doing what you’re doing and enjoy what you’re doing. If you’re not enjoying it, rethink. To freshmen, I advise you to keep an open mind. I know plenty of students come here with the mindset to pursue finance because their parents or friends told them that it’s great. Finance works for many people, but it’s not for everyone. I encourage you to keep your eyes and ears open -- explore the opportunities OSE provides, like Stern Talks, which gives you a quick overview of different industries. Keep an open mind and seek out opportunities. In general, to all students, I would say to leave this place better than how you found it. Always think about how you can pay it forward to future generations of students.
Will Stern Students #GrabTheirWallets? Stephanie Yang Class of 2020
ll It’s October 2016—one month away from arguably the most controversial presidential election in recent history. The tension in the air is palpable. Susan Coulter, founder of the #GrabYourWallet movement, is browsing through the website of an American luxury department store, Nordstrom. Instead of retail therapy, however, Coulter is overwhelmed by a sense of guilt: earlier that week, the Washington Post released leaked Access Hollywood footage of Donald Trump. In the footage, Trump boasts about being able to sexually harass women because of his star status. Most notably, Trump said his celebrity power allowed him to “grab them women by the p--sy”. Fast forward to Coulter, who notices on Nordstrom’s website Ivanka Trump’s own line of apparel displayed for all to buy. In that moment, the #GrabYourWallet movement was born, a massive boycott of the businesses selling Trump products. Its website details which businesses carry Trump’s or his family’s products, public relations contacts, as well as which companies have been dropped from the list for dumping Trump products from their offerings. The goal is not to punish companies but to help them understand the moral values of their consumers and provide a clear way to remove themselves from the list. One of the top ten companies listed is L.L. Bean, caught in a storm of controversy after Linda Bean, heiress of the company and member of the Board of Directors, addressed the boycott on national television. Bean expressed concern that she and her company were being bullied by the Grab Your Wallet movement for her political leanings. In response to a Fox morning segment, Donald Trump took to Twitter The tweet drew mixed reactions. Many viewed it as an inappropriate and unethical endorsement of a private business by a
U.S. President. Others, who supported the President, went out to buy L.L.Bean products. Overall, Trump’s tweet was a clear representation of the highly polarized dynamics among President Trump, businesses and American consumers.
While corporations are taking charge, where does the responsibility of consumers lie? As many students here at Stern have learned, companies are extremely invested in engaging with their stakeholders. In an era of chaos and confusion, how are we reacting with our dollars, if at all? Does the student body even believe we can make a tangible impact with our purchases, or is our collective status as ‘broke, hungry college students’ too strong to make us change our purchasing behavior? That said, college students, categorized within the Millennial Generation, have a growing amount of buying power, especially as
they approach financial independence. A boycott like #GrabYourWallet seems to put students in a precarious situation, conflicted between the social issues they believe in and the number in their bank accounts. A senior at Stern, concentrating in Finance and Marketing, further illustrates this point: “College students are actually an interesting age group to study because on one hand, we feel extra compelled and tied to social movements and efforts, and it is a group that is actually some of the key drivers and influencers for brands and products. However, at the same time college students' purchasing power could be quite limited in terms of access, dependent on location as well as finances. Given this limited access, I think college students that do make a statement by boycotting would definitely feel strongly towards the social issue”. Since the inception of the #GrabYourWallet boycott, many big retailers, such as Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Kmart, have dropped Trump products from their sales racks. However, businesses’ alignment with the boycott remains somewhat murky. For example, Nordstrom cited dropping Ivanka’s line due to “poor sales”, with many other retailers releasing similar statements. According to the #GrabYourWallet website, 23 companies have been removed from the boycott list, while 54 companies remain due to varying levels of ties with Trump. Watching the #GrabYourWallet movement unfold has been fascinating, especially as we consumers watch the businesses from which we buy scramble to take a stance while trying not to ostracize the other side. Even at Stern, where students learn the importance of stakeholder engagement, students seem to be relatively ambivalent towards consumer boycotts. In the coming months, it will be interesting to see whether or not purposeful consumer spending will impact the administration’s future policies.
NEWS STUDENT LIFE
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Breaking into Silicon Alley: Entrepreneurship at New York University Michelle Huang Class of 2018
On the weekend of March 3 and 4th, Tisch Hall was filled with people for the annual New York University Entrepreneurs Festival. More than 1,000 people were in attendance, including high school and college students, NYU faculty, staff, and alumni, as well as various technology entrepreneurs who all brought their enthusiasm and passion for building companies to the event. Participants engaged in numerous activities at the festival: the CTO of ClarifAl, an artificial intelligence technology company, hosted a minihackathon; EOS hosted a product design workshop; alumni and current student founders demo’d their products during the networking breaks. Several roundtables sparked conversations ranging from finding funding to smoothing out legal matters, panels featured NYU affiliates that covered topics on everything from medical technology to social entrepreneurship. Frank Rimalovski, Executive Director at NYU Entrepreneurial Institute, kicked off the festival on the first day with an apt quote from Richard Branson, “Business is an idea that’s going to make other people’s lives better. That’s all there is to it.” Sp eaking more to the histor y of Entrepreneurs Festival, Rimalovski details planning the first one at NYU, dating back to 2011: “When I first started here, 6 plus years ago, I was trying to take inventory of successful entrepreneurs who had ll
gone to NYU – no one had anything approximating a list; I was getting it piece-meal from some people,” Rimalovski said. “Dennis Crowley from Foursquare was the name that everyone seemed to know, but even the fact that Etsy, started by three Gallatin students, wasn’t well known at the time.” Rimalovski continues to talk about the underlying mission of the festival and what he hopes that students will take from it: “The goal was: to invite all of these alumni back, but also to hold up current students and faculty that were currently working on their startups, to celebrate them as role models but also to help them inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs, and to help them learn from the mistakes that they’ve made and the lessons learned along the way,” Rimalovski said. “While it is part conference, it is also really intended to be a celebration of starting a startup.” The passion from this celebration was contagious, emanating to everyone who attended. For some, the festival was a great breakthrough and first exposure into the world of opportunities entrepreneurship at NYU. Michael Ding, a freshman at NYU Stern, describes experiencing the festival for the first time: “Before I came to NYU, I never really understood what ‘entrepreneurship’ meant until I came into contact with people who were so passionate about certain industries that they started their own companies,” Ding said. “The showcases
TavTech: Launching the Next Generation of Startup Nation Karan Magu Class of 2017
A hackathon is popularly defined as “an event, typically lasting several days, in which a large number of people meet to engage in collaborative computer programming.” When 40 student fellows from 9 nationalities, 26 fields of study, 6 prestigious universities, and 5 religious affiliations come together to brainstorm, build and pitch software in 4 days, it isn’t your typical hackathon. It is the final week of TavTech, a unique monthlong coding and entrepreneurship fellowship that took place over winter break with the Barclay’s Rise Accelerator in central Tel Aviv as its workspace. As part of the Code for The Planet initiative, TavTech selects outstanding applicants from Asia, North America, South America, and Europe with academic backgrounds pursuing diverse fields such as computer science, government, psychology, earth science, philosophy and finance. The fellowship equips them with a unique cultural understanding of Israel’s economy and booming startup ecosystem while connecting them with tech leaders, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and innovative companies such as Intel Israel, Wix and SodaStream. Most students have never coded before, but after 3 weeks of comprehensive instruction in machine learning, cybersecurity, big data, and iOS, they apply their knowledge and cultural experiences to solve real world problems with social impact applications. One fellow, aStern undergraduate said, “The program is rigorous but extremely rewarding. We are always learning, always on the move. The week is dedicated to programming classes and talks by Venture Capitalists and the weekends to networking events, company visits or field trips.” The hackathon during the final week encourages the fellows to get out of their comfort zone and build a product iteratively. The fellows have the freedom to focus on ideas they’re passionate about, and bring to the table their individual backgrounds to inform and inspire their product design. Examples of ideas TavTech fellows are tackling include optimal food waste redistribution, ll
were very engaging because they displayed ventures from a variety of industries. I got a chance to talk to some of the current students and alumni, and saw that they were all so supportive of each other, regardless of how far they were in their own companies, which was extremely inspiring. It’s amazing how they are able to see trends and patterns across different industries and create something in that intersection. I had a personal idea that I was thinking of working on before the festival, and now I feel like I am ready to jump into it.” The showcase of alumni who have graduated and have started companies of their own further illustrates how supportive and valuable the network of entrepreneurs can be. Seeing them serves as inspiration to student entrepreneurs, and shows them the potential of their projects. Gallatin sophomore Tim Nugmanov, concentrating in Entrepreneurship and Computer Science, has been heavily involved in the entrepreneurship community at NYU and speaks to his experiences in creating a company: “The lightbulb moment came shortly after my interest in entrepreneurship started growing,” Nugmanov said. “I was really interested in fitness and data, as I was in a phase of measuring workouts and everything about my health. After reading a Forbes article about a man who collected patient data from hospitals and used machine learning to predict diseases, I realized I wanted to help people in
Losing SternontheMove Aaron Choi
improving online research, gamifying philanthropy, and detecting skin cancer using computer vision. It all started nearly 3 years ago with a 20-yearold, a question and a dream. “What would it take to create a community of intellectually curious students who are motivated to leverage scalable technology in solving global problems?” “What if enough funding could be raised to sponsor these students to visit the capital of the Startup Nation for an intensive monthlong educational program?” It was 2015, and Phil Hayes, then a business student at the end of his Junior year at NYU, was all set to graduate in a few months and embark upon a lucrative career as data scientist at a top social media company. While most other students in his position were planning post-graduation family trips or relaxing summer travels, Phil and his team were looking at the bigger picture and asking more ambitious questions. Leveraging their connections in Israel and using guidance from Rabbi Yehuda Sarna at The Bronfman Center at New York University , the team partnered up with Onward Israel to launch its idea. The first batch of 20 fellows visited Israel for a month between December 2015 and January 2016. Since then, the alumni base has actively in managed and expanded the program to twice its initial size. The team has a vision to grow this program further in scale and impact in coming years. What started out as a dream is now a successful reality, brimming with potential, optimism and a stellar vision for the future. Authors Note: For 31 days between December 2016 and January 2017, I was part of something that inspired me. Memories, stories and visions of all the things I learned, all the people I met and all the experiences I was part of during my month in Israel through TavTech will stay with me forever in all their inspiration.
the same way - to track their health in a smarter and more efficient way.” In terms of navigating the NYU ecosystem, Tim names the Entrepreneurial Institute, Future Labs at NYU Tandon (incubator), and W.R. Berkeley Innovation Lab as the three main umbrella organizations. Many of the student ruyn clubs of the university that center around entrepreneurship are unified through the Entrepreneurs Network. As there are a world of of opportunities at NYU and in the man neighborhoods of New York, featuring an explosion of new startups and investment opportunities, the city is accurately coined “Silicon Alley.” To the up-and-rising potential entrepreneurs, Rimalovski leaves with a piece of advice, “Do more than think,” Rimalovski said. “It doesn’t mean don’t think, but it just means to be more action-oriented. The most important thing an entrepreneur can do is just started: it doesn’t mean build it and ship it, but it means: get started learning, get started testing your ideas, get started collaborating with someone else. Come to Leslie eLab, get started. Do something. Coffee’s on me.”
Class of 2020
December 14, 2016 was a day that all Sternies lost a piece of their exclusivity, receiving notice that “SternOnTheMove” and “SternOnTheMove2” would be removed to make way for the university-wide wifinetwork “nyu.” Students were notified that with this new network came faster internet speeds, consistent login credentials for networks at Stern and NYU, as well as heightened cyber security. However, not everyone was buying it. A petition against this action circulated among Stern students in the subsequent days, receiving over 300 signatures. Many students felt that an all-inclusive network would lead to slower speeds from the heightened activity. Nevertheless, these petitions did not change the administration’s decision; the following month, “nyu” was made the only wifi network at Stern whilst its former networks were removed for good. Following an interview with Neil Rader, the Chief Operative Officer of NYU Stern, it was clear the network switch was a logical decision. Stern’s exclusive networks were quite old, and the costs associated with their constant maintenance and upgrades to function simply did not outweigh their added benefit to the Stern body. Servers need constant upgrades, and the logistical nightmare of managing the efficiency and security of three networks—as opposed to one—meant compromising the quality of each. By focusing the allotted budget on only one network, Stern has been able to improve the area of wifi coverage across all of NYU Stern’s buildings, as well as the strength of the signal. The increased internet traffic would not be a problem either; as the money Stern saved by the switch was used to reinvest within its technological infrastructure. We now boast newly renovated ll
servers as well as cooling systems to ensure that our wireless systems can continue to run. In addition, by switching to the all-University network, Stern has sent a message that it is an inclusive member of the NYU community. W h i l e “ S t e r n O nT h e M o v e ” a n d “SternOnTheMove2” operated, NYU Stern was charged for the upkeep and maintenance of the internet system, despite also paying New York University for use of its wifi network. These costs can add up over time, and ultimately come at the expense of higher students’ tuition. Moreover, by reducing the expenses required to operate NYU Stern, tuition increases might be only 2.9% instead of the national average of 3.3%. With regards to funding higher education, a little goes a long way, and Stern is doing its part in the movement towards student affordability. The wifi switch replaced an outdated wifi system with one that is cheaper to run and easier to manage. The money that goes from reducing expenses is ultimately reinvested within Stern and the student body, planting seeds for new sitting areas, lounges, and study rooms. By focusing on only one network, NYU Stern is better able to service its internet needs—and you won’t have to worry about dropped wifi when you need it most.
Consulting Profile Tristan Harris Class of 2020
Two trends have slowly been emerging at Stern – a growing interest in consulting and an increasing emphasis on social impact. Net Impact, a Stern club, has launched a program to leverage both of these trends through the Net Impact Collaborative Experience (N.I.C.E.). Created for NYU students who aim to gain experience with social impact, N.I.C.E. caters to students who may not know where to start their social impact consulting journey. Working with NYC-based social impact start-ups, N.I.C.E. members are able to gain hands-on experience with a wide variety of different organizations. Each semester, organizations are chosen based on a theme; Spring 2017’s theme is “Educational Equity.” Some organizations N.I.C.E. has partnered with this year include Share Meals, Rise Marketplace, NYU’s Community Agriculture Club, Idle Threat, and Phone Flare. N.I.C.E.’s success largely rests on its president Jeni Lin, Junior in CAS studying Economics and Philosophy. She first gained experience with social impact consulting at PwC Advisory, where she worked with the firm’s sustainable energy department. She then interned the following year with BCG looking at sustainable investing projects. Through these experiences, Jeni says she became “interested in what Net Impact and N.I.C.E. do as a whole.” After seeing N.I.C.E. struggle during her sophomore spring, Jeni helped relaunch the program in Fall ll
2016 by utilizing her social impact consulting experiences. Jeni took over N.I.C.E. to sustain its success, citing that it “helped shape who I am today by offering exposure to start-ups and social impact start-ups tackling issues of food insecurity, environmental sustainability, and educational equity.” Under her leadership, N.I.C.E. has developed a clearer workshop structure by having the visiting company first present its business plan so that members can understand the company. Then, members have the opportunity to pick from two objectives to spend working on during the workshop. N.I.C.E. is open to students in all years; however, it is especially tailored to underclassmen who may struggle to gain experience with social impact consulting elsewhere. Jeni believes that N.I.C.E. is especially valuable because it provides students with insight into both social impact consulting and consulting as a field more generally. Jeni hopes that N.I.C.E. equips members with key consulting skills such as analyzing industries, baselining companies, and learning how to identify clear solutions for organizations based on their needs. Kitty Liang, a Freshman at Stern, is a regular member at N.I.C.E. Kitty enjoys N.I.C.E. because “it is quite rewarding… you are actually doing things, you aren’t just crunching numbers.” In terms of the skills she has gained, Kitty says that N.I.C.E. has taught her “how to think logically and critically, how to work with people, and how to use information.” Her favorite organizations to consult with this past year
have been RISE Marketplace and Share Meals. N.I.C.E. not only benefits its members by giving them experience with social impact consulting, but it also provides a crucial resource for social impact organizations themselves. Because social impact organizations are often nonprofits, many do not have the funds necessary to employ large consulting firms. N.I.C.E. is a free alternative for organizations to gain insight from students with wide range of professional and academic backgrounds at Stern. LYNX, a social media company founded by Stern juniors Nan Ding & Judith Xu, remarked that “N.I.C.E. helped us tremendously. We started out with a rough idea but N.I.C.E. helped us develop it into an almost fully-fledged business plan.” Karl Storchmann, founder of the Anti-Idling Initiative, stated that he “got a lesson in organization and efficiency. It was incredibly refreshing to be engaged in intense discussions with devoted students." N.I.C.E. meets Fridays 4-5:15 pm and is a part of Net Impact. Check out its Facebook page and join Net Impact’s ListServ for more information about the organizations that N.I.C.E. brings in each week.
The Perks of Graduating Early Anna Chen
Class of 2017
This year is my gap year before the toils of adulthood. Like many Sternies, I have opted to graduate college early to reclaim a year’s time and tuition dollars. I’ve spent my time creating a Googlecalendar patchwork of all my bucket list ambitions. The result? During my senior year, I only sat through seven lectures (of PRL). Instead of other coursework, I visited ten countries in six months and juggled two NYC internships with a volunteer gig. I have served coffee in a bookstore, interviewed female inmates in prison and painted mosaics in the Spanish desert. If you think that’s random, you’re right. But I’m incredibly grateful for how this year has panned out. The challenge of paving my own way empowered me to abandon my comfort zone. I essentially Tinder-swiped through dozens of ways to fill my time -- which countries to visit, classes to audit or people to meet. Without many set commitments, I had the freedom to choose my actions. For example, I eagerly wanted to continue an NYU research project on prison policy innovation, so I arranged to do so virtually as I traveled and set my own hours. But similar to online dating, the options can be overwhelming. I have spent hours reaching page 30 on a travel blog. And once I decided on a place, even more time went into sending couch-surfing or volunteer requests. A few frustrating times, facts or circumstances changed and I was compelled to start all over again. For instance, ll
I initially set out to visit Tenerife, Spain to volunteer at whale research non-profit. The role involved logging whale sightings on boats in the Atlantic Ocean and helping the research team. After speaking with the organizers five days before I was supposed to fly in, I realized that I lacked confidence in their transparency and ability to make an impact. I cancelled with an apology and found a last-minute volunteer job helping a German expat set up her language start-up online. In my spare time, I hiked Mount Teide, the highest summit and volcano in Spain, and relaxed at the many beaches. Arranging those opportunities was incredibly gratifying but also exhausting. On hectic days, I might even miss school. At NYU, our daily schedule is very clear. We pick extracurriculars and meet weekly to share interests. Friends study together for tests announced on day one. We are set on a “track” to graduation. These structures are inherently great at facilitating depth -- depth of education through advanced coursework and depth of friendship through four years together. I also recognize the benefits of staying on campus. Seniors can challenge themselves in other ways: gain more campus leadership, work on a thesis or even just make new friends. For some, senior year is the last time they will be in New York or in school. Might as well enjoy it. My decision to graduate so early would have confused freshman year Anna. I entered NYU intent on savoring the hasty independence and world-class education. In fact, I distinctly recall
Hello from Tenerife, Spain! Here I spent a week hiking, beaching and helping a German woman with her language start-up. Source: Anna Chen
telling a friend that I had no wish to graduate early and rush into a job. You may feel the same way. I still have no real desire to rush into work, although I know I will enjoy it. The pursuit of multidisciplinary learning is the core reason for my decision. Instead of using an extra year to start full-time (way more financially responsible), I can concoct my gap year to test all the possibilities. Without regrets, I have basked in every moment.
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Senior Superlatives Most Likely to Win a Nobel Prize Jessica Guo
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Pablo Picasso Award Arlina Cai
Brunc Tiffany h Ba e Qia n
Twisted Trio Jon W
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Jetsetter Award Karl Gourgue
Host be a Talk Show Most Likely to it Jain
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